Over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the internet is filled with excitement about ChatGPT, an AI-based chatbot system that uses natural language processing (NLP) to generate conversations. It enables users to ask questions or tell a story, and the bot will respond with relevant, natural-sounding answers and topics. ChatGPT can be used for a variety of applications, including customer service, online shopping, hiring and training staff, streamlining operations, and providing more personalized customer experiences (Marr).
ChatGPT can also be used to create interactive storytelling experiences, allowing users to explore and learn from virtual worlds. Some use cases for ChatGPT include:
- Generating responses in a chatbot or virtual assistant, to provide more natural and engaging interactions with users
- Brainstorming content ideas on keywords or topics
- Creating personalized communication, such as email responses or product recommendations
- Creating marketing content like blog posts or social media updates
- Translating text from one language to another
- Recapping long documents by providing the full text and asking ChatGPT to generate a shorter summary
- Using chatbot-generated answers to create automated customer service tools
If you’re a business leader and you’re looking for ways to make content creation easier or provide customers with a more personalized experience, ChatGPT can be a great tool for you (Marr).
“You can have what seems alarmingly close to a human conversation with it, so I was a little taken aback,” said Osh Momoh, chief technical advisor for MaRS, an innovation hub in Toronto. Momoh says the bot is better than anything that’s come before at generating text responses to real human questions. He suggests people could use ChatGPT as a tool to enhance their productivity, especially in sectors like customer service, advertising and media. “In a year or two, I think it will basically impact anything that involves generating text,” he said (Patel).
While that may raise concerns about artificial intelligence putting people out of work, Melanie Mitchell, a computer scientist at the Santa Fe Institute, expects that jobs will just shift as workers are no longer required to complete repetitive tasks. “Technology tends to create jobs in unexpected areas as it takes jobs away,” she said (Patel).
It can also script programming code, making the AI a potential time-saver for software developers, programmers, and others in I.T. — including cybercriminals who could use the bot’s skills for malevolent purposes (McQuillan).
Cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies says it has identified instances where ChatGPT was successfully prompted to write malicious code that could potentially steal computer files, run malware, phish for credentials or encrypt an entire system in a ransomware scheme. Check Point said cybercriminals, some of whom appeared to have limited technical skill, had shared their experiences using ChatGPT, and the resulting code, on underground hacking forums (McQuillan).
Other users have found ways to trick the bot into giving them information — such as telling ChatGPT that its guidelines and filters had been deactivated, or asking it to complete a conversation between two friends about banned subject matter (McQuillan).
On the other side of the coin, experts also see ChatGPT’s potential to help organizations improve their cybersecurity. “If you’re the company, you have the code base, you might be able to use these systems to sort of self-audit your own vulnerability to specific attacks,” said Nicolas Papernot, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, who specializes in security and privacy in machine learning. Because it’s trained on existing language, AI technology can also perpetuate societal biases like those around race, gender and culture (McQuillan).
“So what’s the effect that those answers could have? Maybe not on me or you, but again on a small child or somebody who’s impressionable that is just trying to form their worldview on some of these harder topics,” said Sheldon Fernandez, CEO of Darwin AI, which is working on harnessing AI for manufacturing (McQuillan).
At the end of the day, ChatGPT’s output — whether good or bad — will depend on the intent of the user.
Marr, Bernard. “ChatGPT: Everything You Really Need to Know (in Simple Terms).” Forbes, 21 Dec. 2022, www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/12/21/chatgpt-everything-you-really-need-to-know-in-simple-terms/?sh=20245859cbca. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.
McQuillan, Laura. “As New AI ChatGPT Earns Hype, Cybersecurity Experts Warn about Potential Malicious Uses Social Sharing.” CBC News, 12 Jan. 2023, www.cbc.ca/news/science/chatgpt-cybercriminals-warning-1.6710854. Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.
Patel, Nisha. “Can the New AI Tool ChatGPT Replace Human Work? Judge for Yourself Social Sharing.” CBC News, 9 Dec. 2022, www.cbc.ca/news/business/chatgpt-artificial-intelligence-1.6681401. Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.